History of 1 Lower John Street

Lower John Street most likely derives its name from John Emlyn, co-owner of the land formerly known as Gelding Close. The street was part of the rapid development of Soho in the late 17th Century which attracted a great number of fashionable and wealthy residents with its exclusive address. Number 1 Lower John Street is a late 18th Century build and overlooks the former Regent Palace Hotel; the largest hotel in Europe, at the time of its completion in 1915. Today the building has been redeveloped as the multifunctional Air W1 which houses retail, residential and office spaces as well as private residences.

Lower John Street Old Map

Lower John Street. Courtesy of British History Online

Lower John Street leads to Golden Square, one of London’s famous historic squares created during the building boom of the late 17th Century. Christopher Wren, famous for his rebuilding of St. Paul’s Cathedral after the Great Fire of London, is believed to have laid out the square but historians are uncertain if the design came from Wren’s office or another authority. The Square quickly attracted politicians and ambassadors, including the Portuguese Embassy for a time. During its heyday, when all thirty-nine houses had been completed and occupied in 1707, a duchess, six peers or future peers (including a future duke), a bishop, six army officers and a number of other residents of title, were living in the square.

Christopher Wren

Christopher Wren. Courtesy of the BBC

Charles Dickens immortalized the Square in “Nicholas Nickleby” by locating the character Ralph Nickleby’s home there. In Dickens’ time, the square had somewhat lost its status among the gentry and the square had been converted into boarding houses to accommodate the great numbers of artists and musicians living in the area. In Nicholas Nickleby Dickens noted “It is one of the squares that have been; a quarter of the town that has gone down in the world, and taken to letting lodgings.”

Charles Dickens Lower John Street

Charles Dickens. Courtesy of the Telegraph

Today at the centre of the Square stands a rather confusing statue. No one is absolutely certain whether the statue represents King George II or King Charles II. Legend has it that the statue was accidentally won at auction, after the unsuspecting bidder raised his hand to greet a friend. However the statue sold for so little that the accidental bidder didn’t bother contesting what had happened and decided to give the statue as a gift to the people of Golden Square.

Golden Square Statue

Golden Square Statue. Courtesy of Groundspeak

The offices and residences around Golden Square are now a media hub, attracting leading media companies including Absolute Radio, who reside at number 1, marketing giants M & C Saatchi and advertising company Clear Channel UK.

Each area of London has its unique history that’s waiting to be discovered and it’s always something we look out for when choosing an office location. We currently have a number of offices on Lower John Street that are ready for you to enjoy.

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